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Info on Ed Litton Mountain Bike

Old 01-16-17, 01:24 AM
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GusTheArtist
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Info on Ed Litton Mountain Bike

Any know anything about Ed Litton Mountain Bikes?
Found this beauty the other day, I never heard of Ed Litton until bringing it home and researching.

What attracted me were the braze-ons for 3 water bottle cages.
Then the brake calipers, then the pump frame peg, then that it is a handmade bike here in the bay area.


(If the image doesn't open up, go here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eskimogus/)

I also wanted to ask opinions. I wanted to throw some drop bars and make it more of an all around touring bike.
Thoughts?
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Old 01-16-17, 06:43 AM
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Nice looking bike. One problem is the stuck seat post. It will take effort to get that out, but not impossible. I am looking forward to what other will say about the bike.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by GusTheArtist View Post
Any know anything about Ed Litton Mountain Bikes?
Found this beauty the other day, I never heard of Ed Litton until bringing it home and researching.

What attracted me were the braze-ons for 3 water bottle cages.
Then the brake calipers, then the pump frame peg, then that it is a handmade bike here in the bay area.


(If the image doesn't open up, go here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eskimogus/)

I also wanted to ask opinions. I wanted to throw some drop bars and make it more of an all around touring bike.
Thoughts?
As you've likely discovered, Ed Litton is a well known framebuilder in the Bay Area. I haven't seen a mountain bike by him before, or if I did it was a long time ago. He used to do some of the frame repairs for a shop I worked at in Berkeley a long time ago.

Anyhow, be functionally what you have there is a custom mid-late 80s MTB that is equivalent in quality to an early handbuilt Ritchey, Fisher or whatever. I don't have a clue of the current market value. I'd assume you got a better deal since Litton isn't as widely known as others that have more aggressively marketed themselves.

AFA converting to a touring bike - sure, you could do that. Modern touring bikes are more or less MTB with drop bars anyway. It should make a good all road tourer. Lose the knobbies, obviously. Check the top tube length before you pick your stem length. MTB are often pretty long since they are used with flat bars.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:34 AM
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It's always great to see a fillet brazed ATB. It's also interesting in that it only has a double crankset paired with a medium range rear derailleur. It's obviously a frankenbike or somebody had a very unique perspective on custom builds. I find it hard to believe that someone would have used a tubular steel seat post on a frame of that level!

The SunTour XC Rollercam dates 1985-1986. The rear derailleur is 1986-1987 but the SIS ATB levers did not come out until 1987, so we already have a conflict. Short of contacting Litton, the best method of dating it will probably be to remove the fork, as it appears to have an off-the-shelf Tange unicrown fork, which should have a date code on the steerer tube. That will provide a "no older than" date and the frame was probably built within a year of the fork.

On another topic, I trust the pictured newborn is not yours, otherwise you will be in deep trouble for having more flicker pictures of your new bicycle than your child. If it is yours, congratulations, and rectify the picture situation immediately or n+1 is in jeopardy.

Last edited by T-Mar; 01-16-17 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:35 AM
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Drop bar mtbs make fine all around touring bikes and tires are readily available. The one thing that would give me pause are the roller cam brakes. They are not compatible with cantilevers but they are with u brakes.

Adjusting Roller-cam Bicycle Brakes

U brakes are fine btw. I have a spec stumpy with a u brake on the chain stays. It was a terrible design for going offroad but it works great on a road bike.

As long as you are confident that you can get replacement brakes, I think this bike would be very cool to own and ride.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
snip . . .

AFA converting to a touring bike - sure, you could do that. Modern touring bikes are more or less MTB with drop bars anyway. It should make a good all road tourer. Lose the knobbies, obviously. Check the top tube length before you pick your stem length. MTB are often pretty long since they are used with flat bars.
Agree that drop bar MTBs can make fine touring bikes but I'm curious why you said that modern touring bikes are more or less mtbs. Some clearly are (like the salsa fargo or the surly troll) but I think most modern touring bikes use lighter tubing sets than are common with mtbs, they generally can't take as fat a tire, and the geometry tends to be different as well.
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Old 01-16-17, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Agree that drop bar MTBs can make fine touring bikes but I'm curious why you said that modern touring bikes are more or less mtbs. Some clearly are (like the salsa fargo or the surly troll) but I think most modern touring bikes use lighter tubing sets than are common with mtbs, they generally can't take as fat a tire, and the geometry tends to be different as well.
A modern touring bike like a LHT is heavier built than touring bikes of old, and closer to an MTB in my view. Weights hover around 28-29 lbs rather than say 22-23. Old touring bikes took 27 1 1/4" tires almost universally, whereas new ones are usually set up for 1.5"/38.

OK, I admit I exaggerated a bit, but modern touring bikes have definitely gotten heavier. Maybe they are more like 80s/90s 'hybrids' but with dropped bars.
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Old 01-16-17, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
A modern touring bike like a LHT is heavier built than touring bikes of old, and closer to an MTB in my view. Weights hover around 28-29 lbs rather than say 22-23. Old touring bikes took 27 1 1/4" tires almost universally, whereas new ones are usually set up for 1.5"/38.

OK, I admit I exaggerated a bit, but modern touring bikes have definitely gotten heavier. Maybe they are more like 80s/90s 'hybrids' but with dropped bars.
This is getting a bit off topic for the OP but this could make an interesting thread in its own right. I like the trend towards fatter tires on touring bikes but I agree that they tend to be overbuilt. Sill I'm not so sure that old school touring bikes weighed 22-23 pounds. Maybe closer to 25-26 would be my guess.
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Old 01-16-17, 09:37 AM
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Hi Gus,

welcome to the forum and congrats on a great find. Ed Litton is an exceptional craftsman and still working today. This one is pretty special as he did not make many Mtb's. I would recommend you reach out to him and see what he says. Again, nice score.


Originally Posted by GusTheArtist View Post
Any know anything about Ed Litton Mountain Bikes?
Found this beauty the other day, I never heard of Ed Litton until bringing it home and researching.

What attracted me were the braze-ons for 3 water bottle cages.
Then the brake calipers, then the pump frame peg, then that it is a handmade bike here in the bay area.


(If the image doesn't open up, go here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/eskimogus/)

I also wanted to ask opinions. I wanted to throw some drop bars and make it more of an all around touring bike.
Thoughts?
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Old 01-16-17, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
This is getting a bit off topic for the OP but this could make an interesting thread in its own right. I like the trend towards fatter tires on touring bikes but I agree that they tend to be overbuilt. Sill I'm not so sure that old school touring bikes weighed 22-23 pounds. Maybe closer to 25-26 would be my guess.
Depends on the level. The top quality ones that actually were used for touring were about 22-23lbs. My old Univega Specialissima was 22.5 lbs. Entry level touring bikes were 28lbs, but no one actually toured on those. Yeah, it's worth a thread but I dislike the Touring forum at BF and avoid it. Maybe C&V.

Anyhow, back OT I also think it would be worth trying to contact Ed Litton. I don't recall any MTB made by him either so this must be at least somewhat rare.
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Old 01-16-17, 10:35 AM
  #11  
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DSCF2411 by Gustavo Vasquez Photography, on Flickr

That's a pretty nice frame although the bike is in somewhat rough shape. These are somewhat rare in as far as I know Litton only produced MTB/ATB frames for about 2 years in the mid 80's. The couple I have seen had nicely hand brazed top end tange tube frames with tange forks and mixed higher end Japanese components. I really like the nice simple clean look of these frames with full braze on's for extra's. This one is worth getting fixed up as rider either with drops or a classic ATB, you won't make any money if you end up selling it but you should at least break even if you end up selling. Fixed up in very nice ready to ride condition nicer hand US built hard frame ATB's like this seem to be selling in the $350-450 range.
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Old 01-16-17, 10:39 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
This is getting a bit off topic for the OP but this could make an interesting thread in its own right. I like the trend towards fatter tires on touring bikes but I agree that they tend to be overbuilt. Sill I'm not so sure that old school touring bikes weighed 22-23 pounds. Maybe closer to 25-26 would be my guess.
They never weighed that. Even my Lotus Odyssey, which was probably the lightest of the Japanese tourers of the day, was over that with racks/pedals/saddle. The Miyata 1000s, built up, but without bags, were probably 26-27. Possibly 28. They were lighter than an LHT, but the LHT has always been an overbuilt truck.

The top flight sports tourers MIGHT have come in around 22.5 with light builds. My Kellogg Ross sports tourer...probably the lightest I've come across...is in this range, but it wouldn't be with a saddle I'd actually use.

As far as comparing a Litton to a Tom Ritchey/early GF...I've never ridden either brand, but I also don't think I'd be comparing ANYONE of that era to Tom Ritchey without extensive experience on both bikes and knowledge of the frame. Ritchey is really a trend setting pioneer...and his work is of the highest caliber. Litton is one of many talented regional builders...comparing him to TR is probably pushing it.

Last edited by KonAaron Snake; 01-16-17 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 01-16-17, 11:16 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Hi Gus,

welcome to the forum and congrats on a great find. Ed Litton is an exceptional craftsman and still working today. This one is pretty special as he did not make many Mtb's. I would recommend you reach out to him and see what he says. Again, nice score.

I'll second this.^

Ed is a nice guy and does great work (he painted my Masi). His shop is located near Oakland and he is very approachable and would probably enjoy talking with you about the bike.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
Nice looking bike. One problem is the stuck seat post. It will take effort to get that out, but not impossible. I am looking forward to what other will say about the bike.
I'm going to drench it in penetrating oil and see what happens. There is a really long and nice slit near the seat post bolt on the frame, I think I have plenty of room to slice the seat post down and use a screwdriver to pound the aluminum seat post into itself.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
As you've likely discovered, Ed Litton is a well known framebuilder in the Bay Area. I haven't seen a mountain bike by him before, or if I did it was a long time ago. He used to do some of the frame repairs for a shop I worked at in Berkeley a long time ago.

Anyhow, be functionally what you have there is a custom mid-late 80s MTB that is equivalent in quality to an early handbuilt Ritchey, Fisher or whatever. I don't have a clue of the current market value. I'd assume you got a better deal since Litton isn't as widely known as others that have more aggressively marketed themselves.

AFA converting to a touring bike - sure, you could do that. Modern touring bikes are more or less MTB with drop bars anyway. It should make a good all road tourer. Lose the knobbies, obviously. Check the top tube length before you pick your stem length. MTB are often pretty long since they are used with flat bars.
Couldn't find much on ATBs by Ed when I first got the bike, but yeah I see he's a really well known builder.
Eh, I think I got a better deal than you think. I picked it up for what a few Starbucks coffee would of cost me. I have a slick pair of 26s lying around here so I think I might switch them out. Not sure yet.
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Old 01-16-17, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
It's always great to see a fillet brazed ATB. It's also interesting in that it only has a double crankset paired with a medium range rear derailleur. It's obviously a frankenbike or somebody had a very unique perspective on custom builds. I find it hard to believe that someone would have used a tubular steel seat post on a frame of that level!

The SunTour XC Rollercam dates 1985-1986. The rear derailleur is 1986-1987 but the SIS ATB levers did not come out until 1987, so we already have a conflict. Short of contacting Litton, the best method of dating it will probably be to remove the fork, as it appears to have an off-the-shelf Tange unicrown fork, which should have a date code on the steerer tube. That will provide a "no older than" date and the frame was probably built within a year of the fork.

On another topic, I trust the pictured newborn is not yours, otherwise you will be in deep trouble for having more flicker pictures of your new bicycle than your child. If it is yours, congratulations, and rectify the picture situation immediately or n+1 is in jeopardy.
Yeah I had that idea that it was dated for the later 1980s,
Really? Mhmm I think think the fork was ordinary with the braze ons.

I thought about contacting Ed, there's a small dent on the top tube where his signature is which I thought I might call about a repair or a whole repaint. Just I don't have the deepest pockets being an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Yeah, totally not my child!
Nephew, he's my newphew lol.
(I don't have room for a child with all my bikes LOL)
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Old 01-16-17, 08:39 PM
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Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
They never weighed that. Even my Lotus Odyssey, which was probably the lightest of the Japanese tourers of the day, was over that with racks/pedals/saddle. The Miyata 1000s, built up, but without bags, were probably 26-27. Possibly 28. They were lighter than an LHT, but the LHT has always been an overbuilt truck.

The top flight sports tourers MIGHT have come in around 22.5 with light builds. My Kellogg Ross sports tourer...probably the lightest I've come across...is in this range, but it wouldn't be with a saddle I'd actually use.

As far as comparing a Litton to a Tom Ritchey/early GF...I've never ridden either brand, but I also don't think I'd be comparing ANYONE of that era to Tom Ritchey without extensive experience on both bikes and knowledge of the frame. Ritchey is really a trend setting pioneer...and his work is of the highest caliber. Litton is one of many talented regional builders...comparing him to TR is probably pushing it.
I haven't weighed it but I know it's on the heavy side. I know my Peugeot UO-8 weighs less. (At least I felt it did when I bought it. I don't have it here with me but could weigh it next time I am around it)
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Old 01-16-17, 08:42 PM
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[/QUOTE]That's a pretty nice frame although the bike is in somewhat rough shape. These are somewhat rare in as far as I know Litton only produced MTB/ATB frames for about 2 years in the mid 80's. The couple I have seen had nicely hand brazed top end tange tube frames with tange forks and mixed higher end Japanese components. I really like the nice simple clean look of these frames with full braze on's for extra's. This one is worth getting fixed up as rider either with drops or a classic ATB, you won't make any money if you end up selling it but you should at least break even if you end up selling. Fixed up in very nice ready to ride condition nicer hand US built hard frame ATB's like this seem to be selling in the $350-450 range.[/QUOTE]

Well I paid almost nothing for it and sure I could make something.
I'm selling some other bikes and putting money into this. I've been wanting a ATB for touring, or at least the capacity of touring. I like all the racks and bags for when I go to work or explore Sonoma County.

Thanks for the idea of what it's worth! I wasn't sure where the price range of this bike. I'm sure it won't be economical for Ed Litton to repaint the whole bike, but it would be nice.
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Old 01-16-17, 10:41 PM
  #19  
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While $350-400 is a fair assessment of realistic market value, it's partly due to lack of name recognition. In another sense, it's a much more expensive bike. Price some filet brazed handbuilt MTB frames from various framebuilders and you'll see what I mean.
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Old 01-16-17, 11:39 PM
  #20  
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I am going to reiterate here, this is a stellar find regardless of a couple of hiccup's, ding and stuck post although those suck and are probably related. Also sounds like you stole it so even mo betta. Litton has been there, done that and seen it all during his tenure and is one of the few still doing it and IMHO is easily one of very few contemporaries that can be compared to the great ones that are much more well known, but he was there, saw a lot and did a lot along the way and again is one of the few still doing it. He is also Merz's go to guy present day which again IMHO speaks volumes.


That's a pretty nice frame although the bike is in somewhat rough shape. These are somewhat rare in as far as I know Litton only produced MTB/ATB frames for about 2 years in the mid 80's. The couple I have seen had nicely hand brazed top end tange tube frames with tange forks and mixed higher end Japanese components. I really like the nice simple clean look of these frames with full braze on's for extra's. This one is worth getting fixed up as rider either with drops or a classic ATB, you won't make any money if you end up selling it but you should at least break even if you end up selling. Fixed up in very nice ready to ride condition nicer hand US built hard frame ATB's like this seem to be selling in the $350-450 range.[/QUOTE]

Well I paid almost nothing for it and sure I could make something.
I'm selling some other bikes and putting money into this. I've been wanting a ATB for touring, or at least the capacity of touring. I like all the racks and bags for when I go to work or explore Sonoma County.

Thanks for the idea of what it's worth! I wasn't sure where the price range of this bike. I'm sure it won't be economical for Ed Litton to repaint the whole bike, but it would be nice.[/QUOTE]
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Old 01-16-17, 11:53 PM
  #21  
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Exactly this, then factor in extreme rarity, high degree of stellar quality and getting it for a song makes Gus one lucky man. Lack of name recognition is from not paying attention, Litton is the real deal plain and simple.


Originally Posted by Salamandrine View Post
While $350-400 is a fair assessment of realistic market value, it's partly due to lack of name recognition. In another sense, it's a much more expensive bike. Price some filet brazed handbuilt MTB frames from various framebuilders and you'll see what I mean.
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Old 05-05-17, 08:24 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by merziac View Post
Exactly this, then factor in extreme rarity, high degree of stellar quality and getting it for a song makes Gus one lucky man. Lack of name recognition is from not paying attention, Litton is the real deal plain and simple.
even without name recognition, one should be able to recognize the details like frame construction. the ding is a real shame, as is the stuck seat post
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